FAO / Kenya - The design, development, maintenance and hosting of a web-based knowledge management portal for the Eastern Africa Farmer Field School.
To create an inclusive information management system among stakeholders of the Farm Field School (FFS) program, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Eastern Africa sought to establish a web-based knowledge platform for the collection, compilation, categorization, and dissemination of FFS related information. The Farmer Field School (FFS) was a project initiated by the FAO in 1989 to train rice farmers in Indonesia on integrated pest management (IPM) as part of their National IPM Programme. This project was successful in helping to control rice pests and was quickly expanded to other countries in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America.
The expansion of the FFS program broadened its scope beyond IPM to cover other types of agricultural production and incorporate socio-ecological aspects. In Africa, the FFS approach was introduced to Kenya in 1995 under the Special Programme for Food Security. Over the years, Governments and development partners in several countries in the region have developed different approaches to the FFS program.
Though the FAO website has a repository database and an information hub of the FFS program on their website, there was a need to concretize local and regional experiences through an all-inclusive information knowledge management platform. This was intended to assist all stakeholders in various tasks ranging from operational planning, implementation, and documentation for the assessment of performed fieldwork, and enhanced networking and sharing of knowledge and expertise across programmes, actors, and countries.
Considering this, the FAO Resilience team in Eastern Africa contracted the Bewsys Team to develop and establish a web-based knowledge platform for the collection, compilation, categorization, and dissemination of FFS related information. In satisfying the requirements needed to create the management platform, the technical team collated data from FFS experts and resource persons. This data formed the foundation of creating a user-friendly database repository on a regional basis. This database included detailed information to help map and track FFS facilitators.
The web-based information portal was built based on the system administration, document library, and integrated content management modules of the Bewsys Regulatory MIS. The system was designed to feature ongoing ad-hoc networking and sharing of knowledge and expertise across programmes, actors, and countries through virtual discussion forums on the platform.
A mobile-friendly version of the web-based information portal was considered in the design process. Updating of content by designated users and search engine optimization to identify documents easily were also considered. A user management system was featured to manage all user account types and enable a user forum for surveys, online discussion groups, notifications, and relevant analytics.
The web-based information management system has increased the sustainability and transparency of the FFS programs. More stakeholders have been networking and sharing expertise through regional events announced on the platform. Collection and dissemination of FFS related information have been made easier. This is contributing to promoting food security programs, improving the standard of living of farmers, and protecting the environment through sustainable farming practices.